SOPA/PIPA: How Far We've Come; How Far We Need To Go

from the not-over-yet dept

On October 26th, I was flying from San Francisco to Washington DC to meet with folks in the House of Representatives to explain why they should be careful about making the same mistakes as the Senate with its anti-piracy bill, PROTECT IP (PIPA). We had been assured by Rep. Bob Goodlatte that Congress had heard the myriad complaints about PIPA and that the House version would take them into account. Instead, as the plane I was on flew over the Rocky Mountains, I started getting a flood of emails from people sending me the first release of the House's version of the bill, now known as SOPA (originally, the E-PARASITE bill, a name they dropped immediately when everyone started mocking it). Thanks to the wonderful innovation of WiFi-in-the-sky, I was able to sit in my cramped seat, read the bill, and write up my horrified post explaining just how much worse SOPA was than PIPA (an already disastrous bill).

The next day, October 27th, a small group of entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and creators spent the day meeting with members of Congress to express our concerns about the bill (which we'd just seen the afternoon before), as well as the whole approach to the crafting of both bills. The one thing we heard over and over again that day: "well this is the first time we've heard anything about this from the internet community."

I think it's safe to say that's no longer the case.

As I type this, I'm taking that same flight, preparing for my debate tomorrow over these bills against an MPAA representative and a US Chamber of Commerce representative, I'm sitting in that same cramped seat (actually, I think I'm on the opposite side of the plane), and thinking just how far we've come in just three and a half months.

Make no mistake: when the Senate introduced PIPA in May, it was widely assumed that this bill, and any companion bill would sail through Congress easily. Sure, some "tech-friendly" officials may express some concerns, but, as one lobbyist told me directly, "no one takes you people seriously anyway." It was this kind of hubris that we saw throughout the year with these bills. We were told repeatedly to shut up and take it, because the bills were going to pass, Obama would sign them, and piracy would magically disappear.

Instead, a funny thing happened on the way to the death of the internet: the internet woke up. While folks online may be political, it's not often that they truly get activated over internet-related issues. But in an era of bottom-up movements facilitated online, the timing was absolutely right for the massive groundswell of support from all corners of the internet to suddenly speak out in near unison to say of these bills: DO NOT WANT.

Still more to do:

At this point, it's impossible to deny that we, as a group, have had an impact. Contrary to the claims of some of the bill's supporters, we showed that this isn't just a "Google" issue. This is an internet issue. And we care about the internet and we care about innovation, and we're not going to take it lightly when elected officials, who admit they don't understand the technology, come along to say they're going to mess with it, just because their biggest campaign donors don't want to adapt to these wonderful new innovations.

But, not everyone in Congress has an understanding of what's happening online. Even with Reps. and Senators backing away from the bills, and asking leadership to slow things down... and even with Rep. Smith and Senator Leahy trying to "delay" the DNS implementation in order to get the bills passed... some in Congress still think that the outcry is minor or limited or that it's all Google.

That's why Harry Reid intends to move forward with the bill, pretending that the complaints only come from Google and Facebook... and that they're minor and easily fixed with a couple of amendments. I believe he's misjudged the internet, just as many others in Congress have misjudged the internet over the last few months. The people speaking out are not just "Google and Facebook," and they're not just speaking out for the hell of it. They're seriously pissed off at Congress for even thinking of going down this path in the first place, and simply killing the bills is unlikely to get the people online back on their side.

But there's a bigger point in the "more to do" section of this post. This isn't about one bill. This isn't about one issue. This is about an entire process. This is about the public -- not the big corporations -- finally saying "enough is enough" and making Congress recognize that crony capitalism, where subsidies and protectionism are doled out willy nilly to favorite campaign contributors, is not acceptable to the people they're supposed to represent.

This is about recognizing that the internet and the massive amount new innovation and services -- and the worldwide ability to communicate with others -- is a game changing innovation for everyone. And we're going to work damn hard to make sure that it remains open and free.

But, to do that right, this is going to take much more than stopping one bill. This is going to take prolonged effort. This is going to take an ongoing effort to make it clear that no elected official can ever again feel comfortable bragging that they don't understand the internet, as they seek to regulate it. This is about making it 100% crystal clear to those who seek to clamp down on the true engine of free expression -- the internet -- that we, the people, aren't going to be fooled with bogus claims and bogus stats in an effort to limit this wonderful platform.

This isn't over yet -- not by a long shot. But just look at how far we've come in just three and a half months, and think what we'll do in the next few months -- and years -- ahead. These bills tried to kill the "internet as we know it." But, in some ways, these bills helped birth a new kind of internet: one that doesn't let Congress screw it up without taking action.


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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 6:52pm

    This says it all ..

     

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      Dementia (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:10pm

      Re: This says it all ..

      Screw this far, and no further, back it the hell up and keep your grubby little hands to yourself.

       

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      MahaliaShere (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:35pm

      Re: This says it all ..

      +1 for the video.

      Now more and more people are becoming aware of these bills, and its supporters keep taking the blue pill.

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:19pm

        Re: Re: This says it all ..

        The blue pill from the matrix and its blissful ignorance will not help them. Viagra will not help them. Nothing will help them, as they are the driving force behind us working together to change things. They push, we push back. Each time we will push back harder, the connections and organizations are being built with each passing moment.

        And I love than video clip.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 8:41am

      Re: This says it all ..

      I always liked "Don't poke the bear."

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:09pm

    Funny thing happened along the way, the tech industry decided to lie about the bill.

    That's right, lie.

    You can't go online today without tripping over some lunkhead that thinks SOPA is going to destroy the internet.

    Why? Simple. The tech industry knew the only way to stop the bill was to lie about it.

    And so they did. A full on campaign trying to strike fear into the heart of every internet user. Fear is an effective propaganda tool. Ask Bush and Cheney. And Goering.

    No one expected the "do no evil" crowd to be liars. But liars they are, and this time it worked.

    Let's see what happens next time.

     

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      Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:16pm

      Re:

      Why, Lamar Smith, we weren't aware you knew how to use the internet. Welcome to TechDirt!

       

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      Jay (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:19pm

      Re:

      Wow... I want to live in a world where the ones with information that actually debunks false notions is a "lie".

      That's pretty groovy, dude.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:52pm

        Re: Re:

        Quite candidly, most of the so-called "debunking" you speak of has been based upon perception of the bills, and not upon what they actually say. This is not to imply that they are fine and dandy as is, but only that visceral reactions to, and denunciation of, legislation without having a thorough understanding of what the legislation actually says is disingenuous.

        I am a lawyer, and I have had to read the bills several times, including their references to other sections of law, in order to achieve an understanding of how they are structured, what is their scope, why various provisions are viewed as important given limitations inherent in current law associated with foreign sites, how they relate to judicial precedent, etc. It is not an easy task to accomplish, and I rather doubt that most of their detractors have not undertaken such an effort.

        Whether the bills in their current form or in amended form are eventually presented for a vote in the near term, I have no doubt that the issues they are intended to address will not go away and will eventually find their way into law.

        If opponents of these or similar bills believe they can simply protest without offering up solutions they believe will address the issues, they will surely and eventually find themselves on the losing end of the debate.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          hear, hear....

           

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        •  
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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Enacting a law that doesn't even address the real problem will not make for a win either.

          And I use "problem" loosely here since I don't even believe there is a problem to begin with.

          Also I don't believe people need to give an alternative to anything, life is full of instances where there are no alternatives and people learn to live with it, trying to force American business to take in all the costs and risks for others so they don't have too doesn't really sounds like good legislation.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            People who do not suggest alternatives rarely, if ever, carry the day. Whether people care to admit it or not, proponents do raise fair points, and refusing to help craft workable approaches is a formula for being ignored.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:41pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Well in that case lets end copyrights that way there is no more illegal activity to be dealt with and democracy will be thankful for it.

              Also economic activity will grow as any economist can tell you granted monopolies can only shrink that while causing sky rocketing price inflation and leaving a great part of the market undeserved by it.

              If people are really serious about job creation they should be looking in the other direction and that is the end of granted monopolies.

              Lets end copyrights forever.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:47pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Here is a simple suggestion.
              Strike everything in the USC 17 chapter 3 and replace it with:

              Copyright shall last no longer than a minute.

              That is it, there will be no more problems to deal with it, no more criminals, no more costly enforcement, no more abuse, no more threats to democracy itself, no more monopolies.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:49pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I call for the GISS(Gone In Sixth Seconds) ACT, to protect democracy against censorship power, monopolies, tyrants, dictators and others who would like to harm it.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 11:45pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The alternative that we present is to abolish copyright.

               

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              PaulT (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 12:20am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "People who do not suggest alternatives rarely, if ever, carry the day."

              True. that doesn't explain why you people lie about the people who oppose you, nor why you ignore the great number of alternative suggestions presented to you. try listening instead of attacking those who make such suggestions, then you might understand.

              Try addressing the reality, not the fantasy world you have fashioned for yourself, then maybe we'll get somewhere.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 12:49am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              ...refusing to help craft workable approaches is a formula for being ignored.

              Repeal the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The fact that, when viable alternatives within the current frameworks are proposed, we're persecuting creators. But when the MAFIAA do it, that's progress.

              Just go away.

               

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            Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 7:26am

            An Alternative

            Here is an minimal alternative:

            1. Remove money from politics. No more contributions, no more lobbyists, no more corruption.

            2. Make ALL congressional business public. No more secret meetings and deal brokering.

            3. End copyright and patents. Let the creators compete, and let the marketplace decide.

            4. Make 10-15 be the minimum number of companies in EVERY market be the rule for antitrust.\

            5. Have any corporation that sues another post a bond of 1.5 times their claim, which will go to the winner, plus court costs and ALL expenses.

            6. Disallow End User License Agreements. Make all sales, sales with the right of resale, even in software.

            There's a start. You would lose your job, but why should we give a damn about that.

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          IP extremists are anything but candid. IP extremists are the ones responsible for 95+ year copy protection lengths. These people are too selfish to think of anything other than themselves.

          The last thing we need now is more IP expansion (or enforcement). We need to substantially retract these laws.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 9:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Retract is not good enough anymore, copyright must be repealed.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 9:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I wouldn't mind abolition. I'm borderline, sometimes advocating abolition, sometimes advocating serious reform.

              I do think some IP, if used correctly, can be a good thing. But our current system is an abuse to humanity and needs serious reform to say the least. and abolition is also something I'm willing to support.

               

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                Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I could really only get behind abolition if there was something new to replace it.

                I think copyright as a general concept can still serve a useful purpose in current and future society, but the current laws are both grossly distorted by corporate interests and simply not feasible in many cases due to changing technology and the general lack of technical competence by lawmakers. While there are many, many wealthy and powerful people that would like to believe it can, no amount of legislative requirements can make the impossible possible.

                Given the state of current copyright laws, it might indeed be easier to simply abolish the current laws and write new ones from scratch. But I think the complete absence of copyright would be a change for the worse.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:52pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Why?
                  Nobody else inside society gets a monopoly on anything, why should anyone get that for whatever reason?

                   

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                  Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 6:25am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  It's always a game of give and take, they want eternal copyrights, then we should go for no copyrights. and meet somewhere in the middle.

                  Preferably at 15 years of opt-out-able copyrights, after those 15 years, you can extend it by 5 years at a cost (increasing each term), giving the content creator an incentive to sell the work.
                  Also, copyright should no longer be transferable, copyright holders are the content creators.

                  Copyright should not be used as a welfare state.

                   

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:38pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                IP is a seed that grows and it is not a flower, it is a poisonous tree.

                The idea may be noble, but as proven again in history once you give it a try monopolies becomes irresistible and grow, and grow and grow.

                It has become a threat to democracy and so should end.

                 

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 9:45pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I have read the bills. They undermine the Supreme Court's Betamax decision, make the DMCA notice-and-takedown process irrelevant, undermine the Ninth Circuit's decision in Perfect 10 v. VISA, ignore defenses under copyright law (the US government claims that it need not consider defenses in seizing sites right now!), and allow devastating injunctions without bonds that would protect defendants against harms by allowing private parties to outsource their enforcement to the government, and provide more federal subsidies to Hollywood. And they do all this with arguments based upon totally bogus piracy statistics and without a clear explanation of what sites these bills cover that existing laws have not been able to reach. The point is that these bills are no legitimate solution, and their proponents haven't offered up anything legitimate to which opposers need to offer a substitute. "Anti-piracy" is, by design, a never-ending game.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 8:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Betamax is not implicated by the legislation, which is only too clear from the simple fact that no group who regularly deals with copyright law has even mentioned it as a consequence flowing from the pending bills. Betamax is about "staple article of commerce", a standard borrowed from patent law. This legislation does not deal with that holding by the Supreme Court.

            The proposed bills are separate and distinct from the DMCA and do not abrogate its safe harbor provisions. They remain unchanged. Moreover, the DMCA does not have extra-territorial effect. While some foreign service providers have adopted some DMCA practices on a voluntary basis, if such providers choose not to do so there is nothing that can be done against them under the DMCA.

            Perfect 10 was about the applicability of secondary liability. The pending bills do nothing to change what comprises secondary liability.

            The USG does not need to consider defenses should these bills or others like them become part of the corpus of US criminal law. Thusly, I do agree with the statement attributed to the DOJ.

            Injunctions are the province of the judiciary and are governed by both statutory law and the federal rules of procedure defining how actions must proceed before our courts. Nothing in these pending bills changes these, and it is important to note that current law does provide circumstances where it is appropriate to post bonds for the reasons you mention.

            Economy of time prevents me from commenting on your other comments, but suffice it to say that in my opinion prima facie requirements for the government to the able to make its case and prevail are quite detailed and extensive.

             

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          athe, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 1:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Does the "solution" have to be legislative in nature? If so, you've immediately cut out a great number of possible solutions, many of which have been offered many times around here.

           

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          Vincent Clement (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 4:47am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Hogwash. The movie studios and record companies have plenty of solutions such as changing their business models. But they don't want to change. They want everyone else to change their business models.

           

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          The eejit (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 6:32am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Okay then, why waste both taxpayers and coirporate money on legislation for what is, at its heart, a business-model issue?

           

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          weneedhelp (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 7:37am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I am a lawyer - A paid liar to take one side, and defend in any way possible, right or wrong does not matter.

          "Quite candidly, most of the so-called "debunking" you speak of has been based upon perception of the bills, and not upon what they actually say."
          Quite candidly, what a load of shit. We have seen the way they are written along with current poorly written laws and the way they are currently abused. Nice try though.

          I am a lawyer - I know wayyyyy more than you laypeople will ever understand. /s

          "If opponents of these or similar bills believe they can simply protest without offering up solutions" As I read this all I pictured was an ostrich with its head in the sand.

          No solutions as if to say We're gonna pass something damn it.

          "and not upon what they actually say."
          Funny guy.

           

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      Anonymous Poster, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:19pm

      Re:

      Can we upvote this for funny? This was funny, I find this funny.

       

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:25pm

      Re:

      Kinda sucks to be you. 95 million dollar spent lobbying and all you did was wake up the people that live, work, and connect here.

      "Let's see what happens next time."

      Sure lets see what happens. This time you pushed, we pushed back. What I got out of this is 200 links to people fighting this legislation.

       

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        Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:47pm

        Re: Re:

        I think you're forgetting who we're dealing with, and by inference what we can expect to happen next. The media lobby has a century of experience getting their desires into laws by any and all means necessary. In comparison, the tech industry is just a political infant.

        What we just witnessed was, metaphorically speaking, a group of media industry regulars (soldiers) getting beaten back by an overwhelming flash mob (and indeed the mob was composed more of citizens than tech companies). The next move is obvious: the media industry will send in the Seal 6 team and military technology worth more than many small countries.

        Remember, we won't even be able to find out who is participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation until well after it's passed into law, and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was approved in the EU while debating agriculture and fisheries laws. That's how the pros (media industry) get it done, boy.

         

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          Hephaestus (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The problem is big media is trying to stay out of the spot light. Not showing this on the nightly news, with back room deals, and keeping the public in the dark, they are setting themselves up for a fall.

          Things are changing and politicians should be worried. "Oh they will forget about this before the next election" no longer holds true. With SOPA and PIPA we are seeing the birth of the American pirate party. Over the past year we have seen the Arab spring, anonymous, politicians back peddling on SOPA, and it is only going to grow and expand. People are sick of crony capitalism, corporations paying for laws, monopoly medicine prices, and getting felt up every time they go to the airport.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 12:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Oh they will forget about this before the next election" no longer holds true.

            The internet has a memory.

             

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:29pm

      Re:

      So I am ready now for your next push. I am guessing that everyone else, that has spread the word, signed the petitions, called the politicians, and donated money will be ready for the next time.

      Every push will get us more organized. We will react faster each time. We will grow, we will expand, and we will squash you.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:36pm

      Re:

      Adorable troll is adorable.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:39pm

      Re:

      Meh, it's Darryl.
      He'll run away from any argument he thinks he cant win (read, any argument).

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:00pm

      Re:

      Yep the tech industry lied, they still think copyright is good.

       

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      Rikuo (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:10pm

      Re:

      Hmm...ya know, if you want to say we're lying, it might help your position just a teeny tiny little bit if you could say what we're actually lying ABOUT. Ya know, say "This is what they're lying about, and this is why its a falsehood".
      Instead, all you have to offer is "You're lying"...and that's it. Without a frame of reference or some context, what you wrote is completely meaningless.

       

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:28pm

      Re:

      Shilltardo's response to everything: Liar liar pants on fire.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

      Re:

      If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

      It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

      All warfare is based on deception.

       

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        The Rising, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 5:32am

        Re: Re:

        An invocation of Sun Tzu by an AC. I'm impressed.

        Although for memorable quotes relevant to this discussion, I also think this is appropriate:

        There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.

        They steamrolled us, repeatedly. They tried over and over to squelch us. This is now beginning to fail, and now they've begun to awake a sleeping beast; The entire infrastructure that they depend on beginning to decide to cave from under them.

        I praise those who take non-violent measures to see themselves heard. They are doing things I no longer can dream to do. I myself will no longer sit back to continue to see this happen, and have begun to pursue means of doing what we must to bring this chaos to a close.

        Once again, we see that even with our first victory, they continue to attempt to battle us. Perhaps it's time some minority of us begin to put together a way to bring these criminals to jail.

         

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      techflaws.org (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 12:57am

      Re:

      Let's see what happens next time.

      You'll lie some more about the opposition to your lies. What's the news, Lamar?

       

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    •  
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      Richard (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 3:01am

      Re:

      And so they did. A full on campaign trying to strike fear into the heart of every internet user. Fear is an effective propaganda tool. Ask Bush and Cheney. And Goering.

      No one expected the "do no evil" crowd to be liars. But liars they are, and this time it worked.

      Let's see what happens next time.


      You remind me of someone ... now who was it?

      Ah yes I remember now - I think they called him "Comical Ali".

       

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    •  
      identicon
      iBelieve, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 4:53pm

      Re: Oh what Arrogance

      MMmm, tasty to the crunch, let everyone taste my arrogance. Its the power to rule you. I don't have to taste it, you do, savory as it is. I especially brought a new season to the pot this time just for the new generations. See how they all squirm and hold their tummies. Sighhhh, ahhhhhh..

       

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    Violated (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:15pm

    Darkness

    I think that summed things up nicely. Let us now make the 18th a day they soon won't forget. Hopefully FaceBook joins us on this one.

    Now only the Internet could cut the power to Washington and their back-up generators.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 7:59pm

    A friend of mine pointed out the Spanish word for soup was sopa, and suggested we use the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld for out slogan:

    No Soup for You.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Jean-Marc Giffin, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:53pm

    Wow

    Wow... Just, wow. That right there was THE Martin Luther King Jr. speech for all Internet users. Well done, Mike. Well done.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      John Doe, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 4:26am

      Re: Wow

      I have a dream that one day the internet will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all internet users are created equal."

       

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    icon
    Atkray (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 8:54pm

    @ Mike

    Goodluck and Godspeed

     

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  •  
    icon
    Rich Fiscus (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:13pm

    You couldn't be more right Mike. Democracy is something which can only be taken by demand of the people. And it must be maintained the same way. That has always been the case, and always will be. It's natural for people who crave power to abuse it, and also to rationalize that abuse as something noble and necessary. Living in a democracy does not eliminate those tendencies. It merely provides us with mechanisms to counteract them.

    This is not a new idea. Thomas Jefferson said as much more than 200 years ago.
    I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions as not to discourage them too much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.

    We are lucky to live in times when rebellion may be accomplished without violence. But make no mistake, the type of changes required are rebellion in civilized clothing. Solving our problems requires imposing our will on the government. We are not dealing with a few isolated instances of corruption. The taint of corruption permeates the government. Naked corruption has become so commonplace the powerful feel secure flaunting their misconduct and contempt for the people in full public view.

    Corporate executives run companies into the ground with no real fear of the consequences. If there's a government regulation they want or don't want, or maybe just a subsidy to keep their books in the black, it's off to the first bank of Congress to make a deposit and drop off a bill. Or maybe the White House with a satchel of cash and the details of an untested, unreliable, unnecessary product some government agency could really benefit from.

    Whatever damage gets done to their employees, or customers, or shareholder, or the whole damn economy gets passed on to the rest of us. Maybe we're paying unemployment for all the jobs they destroyed, or maybe it's housing subsidies for the employees and retirees whose pensions they looted. But you can bet they'll have the audacity to lecture us later about how guilty we should feel for asking them to pay a higher tax rate on their hard earned money. And Congress will react by holding out the tip jar.

    The Democrats did not do this. The Republicans did not do this. They all did it, and by allowing them to do it, the people were accomplices. In a democracy it is your responsibility to police the government. If you see the broken system and do nothing, you're part of the problem. Stop being part of the problem. It's time to stand up and say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take this anymore!"

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 12:58am

      Re:

      In a democracy it is your responsibility to police the government.

      Nice theory. (And I agree with you—in theory!)

      But citizens do not have either the time nor energy to really understand what the government is up to. And even when they do, they generally lack the resources to effectively alter the government's course. Of course there are isolated cases where citizens do acquire knowledge and then organize to act decisively—but they're isolated cases, demonstrating the massive effort needed. As a general formula for governance, it doesn't work.

       

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      •  
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        Rich Fiscus (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:05am

        Re: Re:

        I disagree. A person does not have the time or resources. The people do. I don't hold every person responsible to police the government single handedly. I do hold every person responsible for doing what they can. If a quarter of the population held themselves to the same standard, keeping the government in check would be child's play. Hell, 10 percent would probably be enough.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The people do.

          Congressional approval is about 10% right now. It's not because the system is working. People can sense that it's not working.

           

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          •  
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            Rich Fiscus (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:21am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            If you know the system is broken and aren't doing anything about it, you're part of the problem. Stop being part of the problem.

             

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            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:42am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              If you know the system is broken and aren't doing anything about it, you're part of the problem.

              Americans used to have a world-wide reputation as “a practical people”. That seems to have gone out of vogue, sometime even before Americans quit saying, “It's a free country.”

              In a practical occupation, you do not repair a system by blaming components for failing to live up to theory. For a mechanic, an engineer, anyone who works with physically-realizable systems, that approach is a fucking disaster.

               

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              •  
                icon
                Rich Fiscus (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 5:38am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                In practical terms, democracy is not self sustaining. It is only as strong as the will of the people. If they people do nothing, democracy is gone.

                 

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:20pm

    I'll give you a workable solution. Get rid of the concept of IP and reduce the parasitic media middlemen that abuse the public and the artists that produce the work to simple media brokers that actually REPRESENT artists and media buyers instead of preying off of them.

     

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    jakerome (profile), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 10:57pm

    Freetards taking undue credit!

    You freetards, led by The Masnick, are taking undue credit for doing nothing. Nothing! While The Masnick inflates himself and proclaims that "I alone stood at the Gates of Mordor to battle the evil MPAA/RIAA," humble Red State meekly points out that the Freetards and Libtard have done nothing... NOTHING... to stop this scourge of a bill. No, instead as Red State humbly observes it was their postulation of primary challenges that single-handedly... SINGLE-HANDEDLY... ended the Red Menace of SOPA.

    http://www.redstate.com/neil_stevens/2012/01/16/tech-at-night-eric-cantor-sopas-dead/

     

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      identicon
      Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Jan 16th, 2012 @ 11:12pm

      Re: Freetards taking undue credit!

      The sad thing is that, in all seriousness, you're probably right. Politicians really don't care what anybody they're supposed to represent thinks, unless there's a $ attached. The only (other) thing that motivates them is a direct threat to their employment posed by challengers calling out the incumbents for their policies.

      Of course some have pointed out that they may just try to pass SOPA et al again after the election is over and their jobs are, for the moment, secure. This strikes me as entirely plausible.

      I wonder if Prozac (or something similar) would make the real world less depressing.

       

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      A Guy (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 1:32am

      Re: Freetards taking undue credit!

      Techdirt raised awareness and generated a good mob. Others taking that work and building upon it is exactly the kind of thing that techdirt has advocated for as long as I have read it.

       

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      jakerome (profile), Jan 18th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

      Re: Freetards taking undue credit!

      Holy completely delusional Batman!
      http://www.redstate.com/neil_stevens/2012/01/18/sopa-and-protect-ippipa-an-update/

      I think they really believe their own BS.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 1:03am

    Here is how laws like SOPA are effective against the interwebz.

    The Chinese great firewall is only bypassed by 250 million people daily or 50% of the users in 2011 with a growth rate of 10% per year.

    Quote:
    "Since 2005, the whole focus of control of information has shifted from traditional media to the Internet."

    China regularly blocks web content it deems politically sensitive in a vast censorship system dubbed the "Great Firewall of China" and is hugely concerned about the power of the Internet to influence public opinion.

    But weibo users have been able to get around the controls by re-posting information and images as fast as the authorities can take them down.

    Source: Physorg: China's Internet population tops 500 million by Marianne Barriaux January 16, 2012

    50% of people defy a government that routinely kills people for less.

    The Chinese great firewall may be the biggest illusion on earth today.

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 1:08am

    SOPA is a Red Herring

     

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      A Guy (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 1:26am

      Re: SOPA is a Red Herring

      meh...

      That shell corporation's Swedish secretary set it up. She doesn't have access to the code anymore, never met anyone involved directly, and they have since let her go.

      The shell corporation is shocked, shocked, that the whois is now out of date. I'm sure they will fix it soon.

       

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Trent, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:12am

    WTF!!!

    I will be rather harsh with this comment. Everyone of the supporters of these bills, and the authors of these bills should all be taken out, and shot for treason. And, for those of you that will say "He is for piracy" screw off too. These bills are clearly not about piracy. They do nothing to protect the artists, and any good computer hacker will be able to get around these blocks that these bills would implicate to get free music, and free movies. These bills would implicate big corporations, and the government powers to shut down any website they find as "infringing on copyrights" what does that mean? And, these bills would only be the begining if passed. Next they will want to shut down a blog because it doesn't agree with the government. Then the reason would be because that person, or persons "MIGHT" be terriorists. It royally pisses me off to hear people who blindly support these bills, and then call the people who are against it plan out pro piracy, when in fact it is these people who will not just blindly follow bills like this, that take away our freedoms. And, nor would our founding forefathers. They would stand up, and fight for the freedom of speech, and work damn hard to come up with a more better solution for the artists and for the people. A solution that doesn't trample over our first amendment rights. The RIAA and the MPAA claim they are helping the artists by doing this. But, all they really want to do is protect their own interests, and in doing so they will slow down inovation, and hinder future artists, free thinkers, and creators the chance to bring about something new, and wonderful to the world. To the RIAA, The MPAA and to the people who do not care about our rights as American citizens. I say you can all go to hell.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:31am

      Re: WTF!!!

      Where I put "Implicate" Should be "Impliment" Sorry, I have an icky stomach, and little sleep. :(

       

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    identicon
    Beech, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:24am

    Next Time

    I really hope that we are adequately preparing for next time. If both SOPA and PIPA are finally dropped, they will come back as something else. Another bill, lines slid into a totally unrelated bill, etc. The internet needs to be ready to riot at a moments notice for the next time they try this shit. Next time politicians shouldn't be able to go for months without knowing there's public outcry against these bills, it should take minutes. This fight is going to be like fighting the Hydra, except now when you cut off one head (bill) the next two that grow back are going to be sneakier, more subversive. We need to keep fighting until politicians feel that touching IP isn't worth the fucking headache we'll give them.

     

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    buddy cousins (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 3:21am

    Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

    We know that they will do that, it's their MO all the way. They probably will pass it over until the next election, so an old cliche comes to mind..."The best defense is a good offense".
    If we have enough people in our corner, why not try to drive all the supporters OUT of office. I realize that I'm creating a monumental task here, but even if only a few witches were driven out of Salem, it would send a shock wave through the "good ole boys" community. It would of coarse require the people in the states / districts of these offenders to take up against them, and even if it failed, it would set a framework for the move against them.

    I believe that the key right now is for some of us with time to spare to pay as close of attention to what congress is up to. Pay close attention to EVERY bill meandering through those jaded halls, and reading the fine print between the lines of every sub page. We all know that these weasels like to push "Sheep's Clothing" bills with the wolves at full attention under the clothes.

    The next generation of SOPA/PIPA will most likely be a subpage under some new "jobs act" or something of that nature. They will try to sneak it through without us having time to respond to it. It will most likely be an 11th hour add-on to some bill about to pass congress. This is where we need to be watching. There would be fewer supporters of the next bill if we could find a way to drive a few of the current supporters out of office now. (*next election ) Perhaps naming the local congressional supporters (of PIPA/SOPA) in their home districts before the next election would be a good reminder to the people of who they DON"T want to vote for. Don't the voters forget.

    Personally, I would love to learn how to see these bills currently, all of them, not just the current "kill the Internet" bills. We all need to support our rights while we still have them. If either of these diseased bills pass, then our freedom of press has been vanquished already, since our sites can be pulled down on a whim, without due process.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 3:32am

      Re: Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

      Once people comprehend that the pirates lied to them about this legislation, they will not be backing you up again.

      Seriously, if you can't produce something, or make your money without illegally piggybacking on someone elses work, find a new business model.

       

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      •  
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        PaulT (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 3:47am

        Re: Re: Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

        Funny, I'm yet to hear an honest rebuttal other than "you're wrong and I'm so so nuuuh". Namecalling a baseless accusations, but no real explanation as to why people who oppose the bill are wrong.

        Do you have anything other than playground tactics?

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 10:30am

        Re: Re: Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

        Way to offer a substantive argument...

        Thanks for all of your intelligent contributions.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 2:27pm

        Re: Re: Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

        There is nothing illegal at the moment at piggybacking on the work of others, the studios and labels do it all the time.

         

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 7:11pm

        Re: Re: Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

        Once people comprehend that Lamar Smith lied to them about this legislation, they will not be backing you up again.

        FTFY.

         

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 3:35am

      Re: Re: Sliding it back in under an unrelated

      ...their MO all the way.

      Look at the story so far: Senate proposes COICA, it fails. Senate proposes PIPA, pending with strong opposition. House proposes SOPA, down in flames.

      Ron Wyden blocks PIPA, says "filibuster". Looks like hero. Positioned as tech's "friend" in Washington. (If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.) Senator Wyden proposes "OPEN". Catchy acronym to appeal to "open source" crowd. Did I mention that Sen. Wyden is tech's friend? Sen. Wyden is a HERO!

      Guesstimated outcome: OPEN becomes basis for "compromise". Hollywood gets some —but not all— of what it wants. So-called "compromise" is 100% take and no give. Copyright continues to ratchet: Always tightening, never loosening. Copyright enforcers get "new tools": A bigger wrench! More torque!

       

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    buddy cousins (profile), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 3:23am

    OOOPS

    End of 2nd paragraph was supposed to read...
    "it would set a framework for the NEXT move against them.

     

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    identicon
    FM Hilton, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 4:14am

    Not a lot of work-money

    It's all well and good to be optimistic about how much we can protest and complain, bitch and moan to our congressional people about how they do this to us.

    The fact is that they will get this done in one way or another-they passed the Patriot Act despite a huge outcry about it, and they started 2 wars without heeding the voices of reason against them. Didn't seem to matter that people were protesting against these and other matters.

    Yes, we can do all we can to stop this. That doesn't mean it will matter in the long run, because the money invested in the opposition is far greater than our collective yelling-and closer to hand for Congress to understand.

    It's inevitable that it will come to pass, because there's just too much money involved to have nothing done. To hell with individual rights.

    Ask the Supreme Court about that. They ruled that corporations are people.

    Sorry to be so pessimistic, but the fact is that we really don't matter to the congresscritters that much unless it comes to voting them back into office. Then they'll promise the moon, sun and heaven on earth to get us to vote for them.

    People have short memories. This too will pass.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 4:26am

      Re: Not a lot of work-money

      People have short memories.

      I still remember sitting in an auditorium, in an engineering class, listening to the professor distinguish between: "Memoryless systems" and "Systems with memory."

      That was around the same time I first heard the saying, "The internet has a memory."

       

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    identicon
    Christopher H. Falco, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 6:40am

    I can make internet piracy into a business

    I been mulling over this for a few months. I have no idea where to get started but I have a way to make at least music piracy into a real legitimate business. Yet like any of the big corporations I do not want my idea stolen and distributed freely on the internet but this plan I have in mind would not only legitimize piracy it would create a whole new platform where the population of the internet as users could acquire content and for-profit organizations would not only recoup their loses from existing products and services but make so much more in profit from new investments and products that are at the beginning of their life span. I know I will never hear from anybody of significance on this idea but if this issue is to be resolved it must undergo this pirate metamorphosis from thief and degenerate to entrepreneur and philanthropist

     

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    identicon
    bshock, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 7:30am

    you're damned right that killing SOPA isn't enough

    If a congressperson supported SOPA or PIPA, I want to see his or her poltical career utterly destroyed. For the individuals proposing this travesty, I want to see them disgraced, impoverished, and surviving on government cheese. I want to see the lobbyists hounded, registered, and imprisoned like child molesters. I want to see Big Media executives out of work, homeless, and ultimately sorry they were ever born.

    Most of all, I want to Roll back IP!

     

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    identicon
    Dave P, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Horrendous bills

    Well said that man! I have been watching all of this from across the pond with ever-increasing horror as events unfold and I find the state of denial that your politicians are living in quite amazing. Cloud-cuckoo land would probably be more appropriate. I even faxed a scathing letter to your Mr. L. Smith suggesting (amongst other things) that it might not be a bad idea if he actually had some knowledge of the subject that he is trying to legislate. His singularly proud boast of not knowing how the internet works will hopefully be his downfall and his constituents will vote him out of office in short order.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Michael, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 1:21pm

    Co-Author of PIPA

    Senator Orrin Hatch Co-Authored PIPA and Co-Sponsored SOPA. Look at how much he HATES the Internet: http://www.dethronehatch.com/orrin-hatch-is-no-friend-of-the-internet/
    Hatch would blow up computers without due process.
    He's also taking tens of thousands of dollars to push these through Congress: http://blog.experts-exchange.com/ee-tech-news/sopa-update-blackouts-pacs-and-a-little-bit-of-irony/

     

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    identicon
    Gustafson, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 8:52pm

    Big Corporations?

    Funny how this is twisted into the favour of unified government. There is no greater subsidies and protectionism doled out willy nilly, than to favourite campaign UNION contributors, supporting nothing less than tyranny in the top, with NO room for individuals.

    THey do it for YOU you IDIOT, not for me (cos they aint got me vote)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Brett Glass, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 9:07pm

    Actually, it IS a Google issue.

    The reason why so many people have been deceived into believing that this is a free speech or censorship issue (it is neither) is that Google has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into misleading lobbying and PR. The truth is that it's a piracy issue, and Google -- being perhaps the largest and most flagrant copyright infringer in the world -- doesn't want to see copyright violators punished. (Google has copied millions of books without the authors' permission, and its YouTube site thrives on unauthorized delivery of copyrighted material.) Wake up, sheeple! Yes, there's something outrageous going on, but it's not what you believe. SOPA isn't evil, but the corporations that are attempting to manipulate you into believing it is -- and the corporate lobbyists who are trying to quash the law so that their bosses can continue to commit wholesale theft -- are quite evil.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Jan 17th, 2012 @ 11:23pm

      Re: Actually, it IS a Google issue.

      Clearly the millions paid by the media industries to force these bills through are not sufficient. Better get out your checkbook.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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